Star formation rate indicators in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey

A. M. Hopkins*, C. J. Miller, R. C. Nichol, A. J. Connolly, M. Bernardi, P. L. Gómez, T. Goto, C. A. Tremonti, J. Brinkmann, Ž Ivezić, D. Q. Lamb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

301 Citations (Scopus)


The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) first data release provides a database of ≈106,000 unique galaxies in the main galaxy sample with measured spectra. A sample of star-forming (SF) galaxies are identified from among the 3079 of these having 1.4 GHz luminosities from FIRST, by using optical spectral diagnostics. Using 1.4 GHz luminosities as a reference star formation rate (SFR) estimator insensitive to obscuration effects, the SFRs derived from the measured SDSS Hα, [O II], and μ-band luminosities, as well as far-infrared luminosities from IRAS, are compared. It is established that straightforward corrections for obscuration and aperture effects reliably bring the SDSS emission line and photometric SFR estimates into agreement with those at 1.4 GHz, although considerable scatter (≈60%) remains in the relations. It thus appears feasible to perform detailed investigations of star formation for large and varied samples of SF galaxies through the available spectroscopic and photometric measurements from the SDSS. We provide herein exact prescriptions for determining the SFR for SDSS galaxies. The expected strong correlation between [O II] and Hα line fluxes for SF galaxies is seen, but with a median line flux ratio F[O II]/F = 0.23, about a factor of 2 smaller than that found in the sample of Kennicutt. This correlation, used in deriving the [O II] SFRs, is consistent with the luminosity-dependent relation found by Jansen and coworkers. The median obscuration for the SDSS SF systems is found to be A = 1.2 mag, while for the radio-detected sample the median obscuration is notably higher, 1.6 mag, and with a broader distribution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)971-991
Number of pages21
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Catalogs
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: starburst
  • Radio continuum: galaxies stars: formation


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